A Glimpse of the Past……Life as a Victorian child.

Our Victorians topic is based around the book ‘Street Child’ by Berlie Doherty. The children empathise with the lead character, imagining what it was like for children living in Victorian times. This book chronicles the experiences of Jim Jarvis, a young orphan who escapes the workhouse in 1860's London and eventually meets Dr Barnardo, who helps him change his life.

Through various activities such as creating a freeze frame, the children immerse themselves in the story, enabling them to create a range of writing from the point of view of a Victorian child.

An example of diary writing inspired by the shared text.

July Diary, 11th 1843 – London, England


As normal 5:30am, time to wake up. Pain everywhere running through my body. Today was the same as all the other days I have experienced in here. The bells rang, we had to get up immediately. It was even harder for me as my body was stiff due to the bad position I slept in last night. Joseph was shouting at all the boys who wouldn’t get up. He went over and stripped off their bed clothes and yanked them up; into the line. Joseph broke up the ice and he threw it all over me. I was as frozen as an ice cube. I rushed towards the dining room and collected my food. Bread, broth and cheese-which were all stale and horrible. Why can’t we have a change of food for once? Everyone was so quiet. I was as quiet as a mouse, too scared to make a sound.

Throughout the term, the children learn about various aspects of Victorian life. For example they take part in the ‘Victorian Day’ at Beaumanor Hall to experience first-hand working in the cellars and school life.

Another part of the Victorians topic is researching and learning more about the work that young children undertook using primary and secondary resources, enabling them to be self-directed in their work. They draw conclusions and communicate their findings about what life was like in the past.

The children examine various Victorian artefacts, acting as history detectives, trying to deduce what they might be and what they are used for! This provides opportunities to gain more understanding of daily hardships and past times.

The children learn about cam mechanisms and design and make a device to help the chimney sweepers clean those very tall chimneys! This is an opportunity to take risks and cooperate with a partner to design and make an end product. It is also a chance to show maths skills such measuring accurately.

The children use their data handling skills to look at statistical information and interpret it to find out more about the differences between Victorian families and families now.

The children also develop their comprehension skills by reading various texts linked to the topic.